Many Kerries suffer uncomfortable skin irritation from clippering (which is a necessary part of their grooming regime), especially on their tummies, buttocks, and genital areas where the skin is most sensitive.
In October of 2003, this topic appeared on KB-L, the Kerry Foundation's newslist. Over 33 subscribers and others responded with ways to avoid and treat post-clippering skin irritation on Kerries. Here are their suggestions.
Preventing Skin Irritation
The best way to avoid skin irritation involves the use and maintenance of clippers and blades.
- Keep blades sharp and clippers cleaned, disinfected, and properly maintained. That means running blades in cleaning solution after every grooming session and carefully wiping the excess solution off. Consider having at least 2 sets of #10, #15, and #30 or #40 blades in your grooming kit so that one set is always optimally sharp. When you suspect a dull blade, send it out for sharpening to a recommended sharpener (not all clipper docs are created equal). (Two clipper sharpners were recommended: in CA 800-689-5132 and CT 860-635-4883. Contact your local grooming shop or breeder for more recommendations.)
- Keep the clipper motor greased, oiled, and clean so that it runs smoothly and at optimal speed. If you are not comfortable doing this job yourself, ask the person who sharpens your blades and scissors for help with this clipper maintenance.
- Don't let your blades get hot. Check regularly. If they feel hot to you, they could burn your Kerry's skin and cause serious irritation. This is called "clipper burn." You might consider storing extra blades in your refrigerator during a grooming session so that cool alternates are always on hand. You can also spray hot blades with one of the many cooling lubricants on the market that reduce blade temperature. Make sure to wipe the solution from the blades after you spray so that as little as possible gets on the dog's skin, as the spray itself may cause skin irritation.
- Clipper sensitive areas first, when the clipper blade is cool.
- Clipper only with the lay of the hair and make no more than one pass for dogs with sensitive skin.
- Use a blade that leaves the coat longer on the tummy area, such as a #7 or #5, rather than the traditional #10, which gives a closer, potentially more irritating shave.
- Consider purchasing the newer, more expensive clipper blades designed to be more durable and hold a sharper edge longer. One type is the Oster's Elite Cryotech blades that are coated with a slick surface that move smoothly through the coat, and are made of harder material to last through more sharpenings. Another type is Top Performance's ceramic blades, advertised to stay sharper and cooler much longer than regular blades. According to a tech support person--and professional groomer--at PetEdge (a supplier), the ceramic blades will break if dropped and need to be sharpened with a diamond sharpener, but she nonetheless gave the blade high marks. Both types of blades can be purchased at PetEdge for reasonable prices.
Treating Skin Irritation
If you were unable to avoid post-clippering skin irritation on your Kerry, here are some suggested remedies. When using any of these products (most of which are readily available), it is recommended that you keep the skin dry and lubricated if you are using one of the lotions. Generally, the skin irritation is likely to subside within a couple of days. If not, consult your veterinarian.
- After shave lotion (soothing and antiseptic as well)
- Hydrocortisone cream (available in all drug stores)
- Skin Works by Senproco (800-748-1777)
- Witch hazel (available in many drug stores and http://www.vermontwitchhazel.com)
- Johnson's Baby Powder and or Johnson's first aid cream (available in all drug stores)
- Alcohol-based (non-flavored) mouthwash or vodka (antiseptic, and less harsh than rubbing alcohol)
- Vellus Satin Cream, for clipper burn (http://www.vellus.com/)
- Gold Bond Medicated Powder (Make sure the area is dry before applying. Warning: the product may not be taken internally, so licking should be prevented.)
- Bag Balm (available in most drug stores)
- Vitamin E (Poke a hole in a capsule and squeeze the oil on the affected area.)
- Lanolin or Preparation H (available in all drug stores)
- Calendula baby lotion (non-toxic) (available in all drug stores)
- Burt's Bees Baby Lotion (a non-toxic moisturizer) (http://store.yahoo.com/burtsbees2003/index.html)
Based on the volume of response to this topic, it's obvious that many of our Kerries have suffered post-clippering irritation of one form or another. Most owners would agree that it is far better to prevent the problem than to spend days treating it. Not only can you avoid the guilt that comes with having caused your dog discomfort, but you can avoid more serious conditions, such as nasty sores that can result from untreated clipper burn. If the skin irritation persists, or rashes or sores develop, consult your veterinarian.
For more information on preventing and treating post-clippering skin irritation, consult your Kerry breeder.